Waterfalls & Kangaroo in John Forrest National Park
Visit the Perth Hills to discover one of Australia’s oldest conservation areas. Established in 1900, John Forrest National Park covers 2,700 hectares of bushland and is home to some very friendly kangaroo! Originally called Greenmount National Park and later changed in 1947 to honour the state’s first premier, it is Western Australia’s oldest national park and one of Perth’s favourite day trip destinations.
How to get to John Forrest National Park
Located in the Darling Ranges, John Forrest National Park is about half an hour from the city of Perth. You will need a car to get there! Take the Great Eastern Highway, and about 8 kilometres after Midland you’ll see signs on the left to John Forrest National Park. There are three entrances to the Park, we suggest taking the second entrance (Park Road). This is the most direct way to the main parking area next to the old John Forrest Tavern. Most major attractions are within walking distance of this parking area, and there’s a toilet block and information boards to guide you.
What you’ll see in the Park
Set amongst Jarrah and Marri trees, most of the park remains in its natural state. It is a beautiful spot for picnics and hiking and features several walking trails. You can also view the only historical railway tunnel in WA – the Swan View Tunnel which follows the tracks of the old railway line to York.
There are outstanding views of Perth and the Swan Coastal Plain from the lookout point on the scenic drive, and the park is home to two waterfalls – Hovea Falls and National Park Falls. The best time to view the waterfalls are from July to September. Subject to rainfall, both are a beautiful sight with water cascading over the orange and grey granite rock.
All trails begin from the main picnic area. Both waterfalls are an easy 2km walk from the main picnic area along a flat gravel road.
The 15km Eagle View Trail is the longest of the hiking trails found in the park. The circuit trail offers plenty of spectacular city views as well as an abundance of wildflowers during spring.
WA’s only historic railway tunnel
One of the highlights in John Forrest National Park is the 340-metre long Swan View Tunnel which was built in 1893 by West Australia’s Engineer-in-Chief, C.Y. O’Connor. Interestingly, until the sinking of Perth’s railway in 2007, this was West Australia’s only ‘true’ railway tunnel.
The tunnel is part of the Railway Heritage Trail and can be walked or cycled through. Bring a torch, especially if you’re with kids, it’s eerily dark in there! We used our phone to light the way, mostly to avoid puddles.
Feeling energetic? Do the 41km Railway Heritage Trail that retraces the old Eastern Railway that formerly linked Fremantle to York in the late 1880s. Around 6km of the trail passes through John Forrest National Park.
Kangaroo in John Forrest National Park
John Forrest National Park is also the perfect place to get up close and personal with our favourite wildlife; kangaroo! You’ll often find a mob of very chilled-out kangaroos near the old Tavern. They used to hang out every day in the Beer Garden of the Tavern, with the staff even giving the roo’s names – Manky and Dribbly.
Whilst the Tavern is now closed for redevelopment, you’ll still often find wild kangaroo here. In fact whilst we were there recently, we witnessed a couple of kangaroos going for it. Known for their “boxing” skills, male kangaroos often fight to establish dominance or win a mate. Fights consist mostly of balancing on their tails while trying to knock their opponent off balance.
Things to know before you go
- There is an entry fee per vehicle to the National Park. Best option whether visiting or a WA local is to purchase the Park Pass which covers park entry fees for private vehicles allowing unlimited entry to all parks in Western Australia for the duration of the pass. Holiday Passes are available for 4 weeks, or there is an Annual Pass which is much better value. NOTE: RAC members can get a discount on the Holiday Pass, Annual All Parks Pass and the Concession Annual All Parks Pass when you purchase them through the RAC member benefits website
- There is no camping at John Forrest National Park.
- Dogs are not permitted inside John Forrest National Park
- There are no suitable swimming options at John Forrest National Park.
- Facilities are limited to one toilet block.
- There are plenty of picnic tables and a few BBQs but no other food options in the Park.